Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Myrmecophiles

  • James A. Danoff-Burg
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_4764

One of several types of social insect symbionts, myrmecophiles are animals that live with ants for at least part of their life cycle. Other similar symbionts are termitophiles (guests of termites), melittophiles (guests of bees) and sphecophiles (guests of wasps). Of these, myrmecophiles and termitophiles are the most abundant, species-rich and morphologically diverse.

All of these social insect symbionts are thought to be nest parasites. Many previous studies have demonstrated that the guests take food from the hosts and may even prey upon them. Outstanding cases, such as more specialized species, that pass the entirety of their life cycle in the nest, may best illustrate why “nest parasite” is the most commonly cited role of social insect symbionts. Throughout their lifespan, these myrmecophiles receive regurgitations from nurse ants tending the ant larvae, and in the process, drain the resources that would have otherwise gone to the host ant larvae. The larval myrmecophile also...

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References

  1. Kistner DH (1979) Social and evolutionary significance of social insect symbionts. In: Matthews RW (ed) Social insects, Vol. I. Academic Press, New York, NY, pp 339–413Google Scholar
  2. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (1990) The ants. Chapter 13. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  3. Pierce NE, Braby MF, Heath A, Lohman DJ, Mathew J, Rand DB, Travassos MA (2002) The ecology and evolution of ant association in the Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera). Annu Rev Entomol 47:733–771PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Danoff-Burg
    • 1
  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA